The District of Columbia's Child and Family Services Agency (CFSA) is responsible for ensuring the safety and well being of about 3,000 children in its care and ensuring that services are provided to them and their families. In fiscal year 2003, CFSA's total budget was about $200 million. Concerns have been raised about CFSA's supply of caseworkers, the foster care and adoptive homes, and the quality and timeliness of mental health services for foster care children. To help address these issues, the Congress appropriated $14 million in fiscal year 2004 to CFSA, the Department of Mental Health (DMH), and the Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments (COG) specifically for foster care improvement. GAO examined CFSA's (1) strategies for recruiting, retaining, and managing its caseworkers; (2) efforts to license an adequate supply of safe foster and adoptive homes; and (3) efforts to collaborate with DMH and the Family Court to provide timely mental health services to foster care children. GAO also reviewed plans for and use of the federal foster care improvement funds.
Recommendations for Executive Action
|Child and Family Services Agency||1. To build upon the improvements underway, the director of CFSA should address human capital management issues that affect caseworkers by establishing processes to consistently and effectively communicate information about agency operations and developing strategies to help ensure that supervisors fulfill their responsibilities.|
|Child and Family Services Agency||2. To build upon the improvements underway, the director of CFSA should develop a systematic method to evaluate its foster parent recruitment efforts to help identify the most effective strategies.|
|Child and Family Services Agency||3. To build upon the improvements underway, the director of CFSA should conduct exit interviews with foster parents who stop serving to identify the factors affecting their decisions and develop an action plan to address those factors that relate to systematic issues.|